Archive for the ‘Fantasy’ Category

pans-labyrinth.jpgRecently I saw the movie Pan’s Labyrinth. I’ve always been drawn to movies that look at the world from a child’s point of view. Combine this with a fantastical world that exists underneath a grim reality – in this case the Spanish Civil War – and you have Pan’s Labyrinth. Ofelia and her pregnant mother travel to an outpost of the war, where they will live with Ofelia’s new stepfather. Dad is a nasty piece of work, a Captain in Franco’s army, with a zeal to wipe out the guerrila factions in the hills around the outpost. It’s a grim life for a young girl, and Ofelia’s only solace is in her books. Her fairy tales seep into the world and soon she is conversing with faeries and is set a number of tasks by Pan, the faun. It’s beautifully filmed, and totally mesmerizing, despite several scenes of extreme violence (you’ll know when to cover your eyes).

The story of a child who escapes the horrors of the adult world into the world of imagination is a common theme in literature, and I recently came across a great book that complements Pan’s Labyrinth. The book is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. In it, a young boy cannot accept the death of his mother and his father’s recent remarriage. The family must also move from war torn London (WWII) to a safer place in thelostthings1.jpg countryside. There he increasingly retreats into the books of fairy tales that his mother used to read to him. One night, a German pilot crashes near his house, creating a pathway into an alternate world, one that is people with all the creature’s in David’s book. He must find his way through this world, which is ruled over by a corrupt and faded king.

Although this book isn’t as violent as Pan’s Labyrinth, it is not for the faint of heart – and it is definitely not for children.


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Dreamquake, by Elizabeth Knox, is the sequel to Dreamhunter. In a country much like New Zealand at the turn of the last, last century, young people train to be Dreamhunters. Dreamhunters are the select few who are able to make the journey into a barren world and find dreams. The dreamhunter is then able to capture these dreams and bring them back to civilization. There they perform them for audiences in large halls. Much like an opera house, these halls have enclosed balconies that contain beds. The performer is able to bring the audience along with them on these dream journeys. The most powerful dream hunters have a range, or ‘parabola’ that can reach everyone in a large hall – and sometimes can seep out beyond the walls. It’s a lovely form of entertainment, but what happens when an unknown dreamhunter is able to over-dream the performer and send out a message of terror?

I was so pleased to find the first book Dreamhunter. Not since Pullman’s The Golden Compass, had I read such a compelling fantasy. I’m only a few chapters into this one, but I’m loving it. I think we’ll see much more of the dark side of dreamhunting. Parallels can be drawn between the fame of the dreamhunter and America’s fascination with stars, as well as between the manipulation of the dreamhunter’s power and the nefarious uses entertainment can be put to.

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